On Tuesday I wrote about learning from everyone, and I got some good response from it. If you missed it, click here to read it.
Shortly after posting, I had a conversation that centered around the concept of the post, specifically what makes a great leader.
So, what do you think? What makes someone a great leader? I have a theory (obviously).
A leader never stops learning.
But who would argue with that? Someone who views themselves as a leader would likely agree rather easily that learning is essential for surviving.
The difference between an average leader and a great leader comes in where learning originates.
A great leader views everything as a growth opportunity.
A great leader understands learning opportunities are all around us. An average leader assigns learning to a few specific realms (classroom, books, etc.) and rarely learns outside of those.
Great leaders (like John Maxwell) are willing and ready to learn from anything and anyone. We never know where leadership lessons will originate, but great leaders learn from everything.
The danger we all face, regardless of our age, is limiting learning to locations. We can learn leadership everywhere, but that’s no excuse to sit back and wait. Leadership growth is also a pursuit. Read books, listen to podcasts, subscribe to blogs (convenient, right?), talk with other leaders, ask more questions, and observe dynamics around you.
The world is our leadership classroom, are you ready to learn?
I had a good friend send me a podcast to listen to yesterday. It was John Maxwell on the 5 Leadership Questions podcast, and I’m grateful I listened.
During the podcast, John was asked who he was learning from currently in his life. His response–everyone.
My cynical side took over for just a moment as I thought to myself, what a “great” answer. Then, I realized it was a great answer. When someone who is synonymous with leadership answers a question that way, I should probably pay attention.
There’s something about someone who is willing to say they’re not too smart or experienced to learn from anyone. It’s an attitude of humility worth cultivating. And it’s an attitude that ensures the people around you will be willing to work with you for years to come.
But the struggle comes in the choice.
It’s a choice to listen more than you talk (John guessed he tried to listen 80% of the time and only talk 20%).
It’s a choice to ask engaging questions, and wait for the answers.
It’s a choice to not assume yourself an expert in a given situation.
It’s a choice to value the person in front of you more than yourself.
Today, as you go through the day, I want to challenge you to learn from those around you. Learn from everyone. People older than you, younger, more naive, more seasoned, and with different views all have something we can learn. Do the hard work of humbling yourself and learning from someone around you.
Part of learning from everyone includes blogs! If you haven’t subscribed to get 3QL posts in your inbox, click here and do that now.
I had a conversation with a student last night. It’s slowly becoming one of my favorite leadership conversations to have with teenagers.
There are some changes in the future (I’ll post more about that in a few weeks), but this student runs the computer on Wednesday nights at church. He loves running the computer at church, and I can identify with him.
We currently have a 2 person rotation on running computer at church, and every week when I see him his first question is always “can I run computer tonight?” When I have to say I’m going to ask the other one first, he is always disappointed.
So, last night, we had a little talk. I told him I love his enthusiasm (and can identify with it, we are kindred spirits), but I had a challenge for him: teach someone else what you know.
I told him if he could learn to teach someone else to do it, and subsequently not take over for them, he would become incredibly valuable.
The reality of the moment was I was having the discussion with him about what I wanted him to do while pointing out the very thing I had done with him. I taught him how to run the computer, and let him do it. Now, if he could do the same, maybe he could find someone who loves the sound booth as much as he does.
This is the challenge we all face in leadership. One of the most challenging things we face is letting go. That’s where the 3 questions come in. For some of us, we need a reminder to ask the 3rd question. We need a reminder that until we allow others to move forward we are not leading, we are simply working.
Who do you need to teach something today? Who do you need to ask for help? I’m not saying you fully surrender anything, but maybe you can find someone today who will find their passion because you asked for them to help. And if you can do that, everyone wins.
I mentioned this last week, and still don’t think I’m fully ready for this, but here goes.
My father-in-law passed away on January 29. It was, for us, a long process, but in reality, a pretty quick progression. He was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in the esophagus and stomach, and passed away (according to my records) 365 days later.
At the memorial, he wanted an open mic. The morning of the service my wife asked me if I was going to share. Honestly, I had not considered sharing before that point. I thought about it, but really did not know what to say if I were to share.
The people who did share did an incredible job highlighting who he was as a man, father, brother, uncle, and friend. I could not have added anything to the service to make it better.
But after the open mic, it hit me. And since I blog and have a captive audience (you), I hope you will indulge me this morning.
With the passing of my father-in-law, I lost an advocate. Every birthday card he gave me was addressed to “No. 4 Son”, and he meant it. I was not a son-in-law. He saw me as part of the family.
As my wife and I were approaching our first anniversary of marriage, she was talking to him one day and made a statement to the effect of “You know, when Wes and I fight, I usually win most of the time” (time warped interpretation, but that was the gist of it). Andy replied as only a father can, “You know sweetie, sometimes it’s just easier for the husband to let the wife think she’s right.”
We celebrate our 15th anniversary this summer and there were many other times in our marriage where he stepped in for me, and I am forever grateful.
My thought is not necessarily about what I lost, although I may be losing quite a few more arguments from here on out. My thoughts today are about the kind of man who treated an outsider like family. Who trusted someone he did not raise to love and care deeply for his only daughter.
For me, as I reflect (because that’s what I do), I cannot help but ask myself 2 questions: 1) Am I willing to live up to that trust? I love my wife beyond what I ever thought possible, and am committed to continuing our journey together through the ups and downs. And 2) Am I willing to show that same level of trust when the day comes?
I usually like to end my posts each day with a nice little bow, but you know, today, I don’t have one. The grief we feel in mourning the loss of someone we love is deep. The joy we have in remembering his legacy is great. I think there’s room for both.
I’ve now been blogging for two full years. If you’ve just found me, or found me recently, I’d love for you to click back through the archives at the first 10-15 posts.
Today, I’d like to share a post that’s been on my mind because of other situations and scenarios. The idea is simple: if you want to accomplish something, you have to start somewhere.
Here’s a glimpse:
The crazy thing about starting somewhere is your start is not your final product. I never start something with the mindset that it is going to be perfect from the beginning. But, if I want a program, event, relationship, or opportunity to reach full potential, it will not happen until I start somewhere.Start Somewhere
If you’re facing a decision that you’re dreading, or just need a reminder of the importance of getting started, then click over and start somewhere today.